Faith and connection to culture define relationship between newer Canadians and charitable giving

Faith and connection to culture define relationship between newer Canadians and charitable giving

New generations of Canadians more likely to say they should be doing more, though they already do

January 16, 2018 – Canada is a nation of immigrants. As of the 2016 census, roughly one-in-five Canadians was born in another country.

So, when considering the charitable giving habits of Canadians – as the Angus Reid Institute and CHIMP: Charitable Impact Foundation have been doing over the last several weeks – it’s worth asking whether newer Canadians differ from the general population, and in what ways.

This fourth installment of the partnership focuses on a sample of first- and second-generation Canadians – that is, those born outside Canada or those whose parents were – from the three largest regional sources of immigration to this country over the past decade: China, South Asia, and the Philippines.

The research finds this segment of Canadians – many of whom are motivated to give by their personal religious faith – more likely to donate to charitable causes than the general population, and more likely to say that they should be doing even more than they already are.

More Key Findings:

  • From poverty reduction, to faith-based issues, to human rights, people born outside Canada are more likely to have donated to each of the 11 charitable areas canvassed in this survey
  • While three-in-ten respondents from the general population (30%) say they should be “doing more” to contribute to charitable causes, this sentiment increases to four-in-ten (41%) among those born outside Canada
  • Seven-in-ten immigrants surveyed (71%) say their religious beliefs have a strong influence on their giving habits, while fewer than half of the general population say this (46%)
  • Money sent to family overseas is a significant source of giving for immigrants – one-in-four (27%) are currently sending money in this way



Giving among new Canadians

  • Immigrants more likely to be “Super Donors” than general population

  • First & second-generation Canadians more likely to give

  • Faith an important distinction for new Canadians

  • Charity also means sending money back home


Despite generosity, the Giving Gap grows

  • New Canadians would give more if…


Giving among new Canadians

For the last several weeks, the Angus Reid Institute, in partnership with CHIMP: Charitable Impact Foundation, has been exploring the state of charitable giving in Canada – from corporate charitable programs, to the giving gap in Canadian society, to trends with Millennial donors and slacktivism.

In the final installment of this four-part series, we take a look at the giving habits of a smaller but no less generous part of the population: Immigrants to Canada.

In addition to a survey of the general population, upon which the previous three parts of this series have centered, this study contains a special sample of Canadians with ties to the three largest regional sources of immigration to Canada.

The sample is primarily drawn from individuals who were born in the top three emigrating nations – China, India, and the Philippines – though a handful of respondents say they were born in another country outside of Canada. The following graph shows a summary of the nation or region of origin for the group referred to as ‘Born outside of Canada’ or ‘First Generation Immigrants’ in this report.

In addition to this sample of 439 residents who were born outside the country, the survey also captures a large group of second-generation Canadians. These people were born in Canada to immigrant parents. In assessing their views, we will delineate them from those born outside of Canada by calling them “second-generation” Canadians. This group is smaller – there are 188 of them – and they are distributed regionally in close to the same proportion as the immigrant group previously described.

The population sample is not representative of all new immigrants due to the complex sampling challenges this would present. However, analyzing this data allows for an excavation of the giving habits of an important population of Canadians. As of the 2016 census, one-fifth of the Canadian populous is foreign born. In 2016, 48 per cent of immigration applications were from the Asia Pacific region. That proportion would likely be even greater if not for the ongoing refugee crisis, which has increased immigration in the form of refugee applications from the Middle East.

With the percentage of Canada’s population who are immigrants expected to grow in coming years, this segment becomes more important to the Canadian story with each passing year.

Among this group of people born outside of Canada, three-in-ten (29%) arrived between 5 and 10 years ago, and a similar number (27%) between 10 and 20 years ago:


Immigrants more likely to be “Super Donors” than the General Population

 Canadians as a whole population can be divided into four groups in terms of their charitable behaviour: The Non-Donors, The Casual Donors, The Prompted Donors, and The Super Donors. The first report in this four-part series goes into greater detail about what defines these groups, and can be viewed here, but for the purposes of this report, here is a brief summary:

The Non-Donors (14% of the general population) are just that: People for whom donating money is simply not something they do. At most, members of this group donate less than $100 dollars and support just one charitable cause in a typical year. The vast majority of this group is even less charitably active.

Slightly more active in their charitable activities are the Casual Donors (31%). Members of this group spread their money around, with most donating to at least two different charities each year, but none of them report donating more than $250 annually.

The other two groups – the Prompted Donors (34%) and the Super Donors (21%) – are each significantly more likely than Casual and Non-Donors to support a variety of charities and to spend more than $250 per year.

The Super Donors are more likely than the Prompted Donors to give to each of the 11 types of causes canvassed in this survey, and they’re more likely to say they gave of their own volition, rather than in response to a request from an organization. Prompted Donors tend to give in response to a specific request at least as often as they take their own charitable initiative. Many of them have specific causes or modes of appeal that regularly prompt them to give.

So how do individuals born outside Canada compare to the general population?

To begin, they’re much more likely to fall into the Super Donor category. More than one-in-three (36%) may be considered members of the most generous segment of the population, compared to one-in-five (21%) within the overall population. Both groups are close to equally likely to be categorized as Prompted Donors.


First & second-generation Canadians more likely to give

Across each of the 11 donation areas canvassed in this survey, those born outside of Canada are more likely than the general population to have volunteered or donated to all of them, with the exception of animal welfare causes.

Notably, second-generation Canadians are as likely as immigrants to volunteer or donate in many charitable areas. This means that they are also much more likely than the general population to be involved. There is however, a large disparity between first- and second-generation Canadians in two areas – religious causes and involvement in their own ethnic community. In both cases, newer Canadians are significantly more likely to have volunteered or donated, as shown in the table below:

Faith an important distinction for new Canadians

The role of personal faith is evident among Canadians born overseas. While just three-in-ten (31%) residents among the total population say they are involved with a religious or faith-based cause, this number jumps to six-in-ten (61%) among immigrants and four-in-ten (43%) among second-generation Canadians.

When looking at the impetus to give, faith is again a factor. Seven-in-ten immigrants to Canada (71%) say their own personal faith has a strong influence on their views of charitable activities. Just under half (46%) of the general population says this. Second-generation Canadians fall in between these two groups (55%):

Charity also means sending money back home

In terms of donation amounts, all three of these populations contribute similar amounts and to a similar number of causes. There is however, a slight increase in generosity among newer Canadians.

Consider that half of those born outside of Canada (51%) currently provide ongoing support to at least one charitable cause, while for the general population that number is slightly over four-in-ten (43%). The most common donation amounts for both populations are ‘up to $100’ and between $100 and $500. Roughly six-in-ten donors from each population fall into these groups:

There is, however, a significant exception in terms of financial outflow from these three groups. One-in-four first-generation Canadians (27%), are currently sending money to family overseas in the form of remittances. This represents double the number of second-generation Canadians who say the same (13%), while just a handful of general population Canadians say they are currently remitting. Note, five per cent of those born outside of Canada said they would rather not say how much they are sending and are not pictured in the graph that follows:

The group remitting in the greatest numbers, by a large margin, are Filipino immigrants. Among this group, 43 per cent say they are sending money back overseas currently, while those from South Asia (25%) and China (15%) report doing so at a much lower rate:

The Giving Gap

Given that they are giving more to charity, on average, than the general population, it is notable that respondents in this sample of immigrants are also more likely to say they “should be doing more to support charitable causes”:

Second-generation Canadians are also more likely than the general population to say that they be doing more:

Among the general population, fully half (51%) of those who express this feeling that they should be donating more say financial concerns are “the whole reason” they don’t do so.

Those who immigrated to Canada at some point in their lives are considerably less likely to cite money problems as the sole concern (37% do), but most say finances are at least “one of the factors” holding them back.

Perhaps correspondingly, the percentage of those born overseas citing other reasons – namely concern about the legitimacy and efficacy of charitable organizations – as a factor for why they feel they aren’t “giving enough” is higher than it is among the general population. That said, these differences are rather minor, as seen in the graph that follows.

New Canadians would give more if…?

In previous installments of this four-part ARI-CHIMP series on the State of Giving in Canada, Canadians who feel they should be donating more to charity have been characterized as a component of “The Giving Gap.” That is, the gulf between how much money Canadians currently give to charity, and how much they would give in ideal circumstances.

Related – The Giving Gap: What stops Canadians from donating more to charitable organizations?

Another part of the giving gap deals with a segment of the population that doesn’t necessarily see a need to give more, but nevertheless expresses a willingness to give more under specific conditions.

This segment – about 20 per cent of the general population – is united by its reaction to a series of attitudinal statements presented in the survey. Most notably, this group agrees with each of three statements beginning with the phrase “I would give more if” at a rate of at least 78 per cent.

Looking at responses to these same questions given by new Canadians, it becomes clear that they closely align with this group. That is, under the right conditions, they say they would be willing to do more. At least seven-in-ten (71%) agree with each of the three “if” statements, significantly higher than the general population.

Whether or not they feel they should be donating more to charity, a significant number of immigrants to Canada say they would give more if they were approached in the right way, could find the right cause, or simply felt more confident about charitable giving overall.

The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist, Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research foundation established to advance education by commissioning, conducting and disseminating to the public accessible and impartial statistical data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.


For detailed results from the general population by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here.

For detailed results from the Immigrants to Canada sample by ethnic background and gender, click here.

Click here for the full report including tables, sample size and methodology

Click here for the questionnaire used in this survey


Shachi Kurl, Executive Director: 604.908.1693 @shachikurl

Kathleen Reid, Managing Director, Switchboard PR: 604.724.1242

Image Credit – Photo 196561848 / Canada © Camillo Clauser |